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Suffering and Bioethics$
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Ronald M. Green and Nathan J. Palpant

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199926176

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199926176.001.0001

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What Is Suffering and What Sorts of Beings Can Suffer?

What Is Suffering and What Sorts of Beings Can Suffer?

Chapter:
(p.134) 7 What Is Suffering and What Sorts of Beings Can Suffer?
Source:
Suffering and Bioethics
Author(s):

David DeGrazia

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199926176.003.0007

This chapter opens with a conceptual investigation of suffering and distinguishes broad and narrow conceptions. The section that follows argues that if we bracket radical skepticism about animal consciousness (a position addressed later), there is ample empirical evidence that many animals, and not only mammals, are capable of suffering in this restricted sense. But insofar as the broader conception of suffering proves fundamental for moral purposes, the chapter takes up the question of what sorts of creatures can suffer in this sense. After a substantial empirical case is sketched for the thesis that animals from a wide array of species (at least mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and some fish) are capable of suffering in the relevant sense, a radical skeptical challenge is presented and rebutted. A brief coda considers implications for bioethics.

Keywords:   suffering, radical skepticism, animal consciousness, sentience, pain, theory of mind

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